The Holy Mountain

The Holy Mountain ★★★★

Lut, He whose planet is Pluto: [vomits] ''His feet stink.''
The Alchemist: ''He has beautiful feet.''
Lut, He whose planet is Pluto: ''I can't stand the smell!''
The Alchemist: [attacks Lut, breaking his legs] ''When he puts your bones back together, you will like his smell!''

I suppose one can begin to lock in Alejandro Jodorowsky's rhythm after the initial shock of first experiencing his fiercely uncompromising cinematic vision, and in this respect The Holy Mountain was much more palatable than I had ever been led to believe or expected it to be, and not too far removed from El Topo really.

From all reports this was to be a sacrilegious, shocking and potentially sickening film, and yet I didn't find it to be any of those things. Instead, I discovered that it was an hallucinatory venture in surrealism and absurdity with nearly every scene exuding symbolic and metaphoric resonance. The plot at it's core involves a spiritual journey that will see a group of seven representatives of the astrological planets led by The Alchemist (The Sun) and with his silent assistant (Mercury) and the 'The Thief' (the Moon and the Fool) venture toward the Holy Mountain to attain immortality. Through death and rebirth, the temptation of giving up the quest for pleasures of the flesh at the Pantheon Bar and an incredibly subversive finale where the fourth wall is broken, we are drenched throughout in occult and Christian symbolism, a shit sauna that turns excrement into gold and dramatization of the Spanish conquest of Mexico where toad's are dressed as Aztecs - are you still with me?

This is LSD induced mayhem and a hell of a trip, and whilst all the symbolism could be broken down and analysed, it is an impossible task to consider upon a single viewing. My favourite scene of the film involved the protagonist (the Fool, the Thief, The Moon) scale a mighty tower to enter an rainbow coloured chamber where he faces off against the alchemist as if in slow motion, a chilling scene that could be nothing but the influence for the ''Wanna fight?'' scene in Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives. The satirical visions of the worst elements of each planet comes off both amusing and full of underlying commentary whilst also displaying Jodorowsky's mastery of the visual medium. The man is a stylist, a satirist and a shit-stirrer and while it can all get pretty overwhelming at times, his vision is undeniable.

''You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold.''

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